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Cleaning and storing gemstone beads

I normally work with cabs & faceted gemstones so I am new to working
with gemstone beads. I have a whole bunch of strands that I bought
from a supplier I know very well but the packages they came in say
"from India" on them. Should I clean them before handling? Also, I
plan on pricing them by the bead as I will be using more than 1
strand at a time (pricing them by the inch will just get too
confusing) so how should I store them once I break them up into
smaller sections after having used only part of a strand? Thx.

I have had great success with buying those plastic Plano brand
tackle boxes. The flat ones with a bunch of small divided sections. I
keep all my gemstone beads in them color coded.

if they are really fragile, put some cotton on top. You can purchase
them anywhere from Michaels to Walmart.

Marilyn Cook

Regardless of where they were manufactured, it is a good idea to
clean the beads. Sometimes they have been “enhanced” meaning dyed,
and residual color will rub off. Also, they may have some powdery
abrasive left over from the drilling of the holes. Alma

Cassandra-There are lots of storage ideas for beads. The best are
clear plastic boxes with dividers.

I always advise separating stones of different hardness. Never place
soft stones like emeralds in the same stone paper as diamonds. Keep
fine pearls separate from every thing else. Once they are strung up I
even wrap the clasp in tissue to keep it from scratching the pearls.

As for cleaning. Not necessary and if they are dyed or treated it’s
actually a bad idea. I grew up in and travelled to counties that were
rife with water and food born diseases. I assure you, you can’t pick
up typhoid or any other 3rd world diseases from beads.

The only time in 45 years in the trade I ever knew of a confirmed
illness from handling stones was back in the late 70s. A stone dealer
who dealt in huge quantities, think pounds not carats, of blue topaz,
got radiation poisoning. Seems he got them really really cheap. Turns
out some Central American medical or nuke techs were moonlighting.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Dear Cassandra… I find that throwing all the beads I get at a show
into a colander and washing them gives me piece of mind, and also, I
find out immediately about any fugitive dyes. I throw some dish soap
in, swish it around, rinse, and dry with a towel. I keep a bound book
in which I write prices and dealers and descriptions of the beads
from each show, which I do first.

A store like Joann’s or Beverly’s, will have several size of
translucent, softer-plastic (hard plastic can chip some beads)
divided trays with attached lids. (Mine just fit lengthwise in a
metal cabinet I found. Often you can find them on sale, which is when
to buy them in bulk, so your collection will be homogeneous. You can
sort them by size, or shape, but I found that in the long run, having
a box for analogous colors, or your dominant stone, is the easiest
for designing, and for checking before shows. Later, with a new
project, I can go through and select a certain size bead in all
genres and while I’m doing that design, use just that box, remarked,
or with estimated averages. I leave them on the strand as long as
possible, because it’s easier to handle and choose from the strand.
I use a bar-bell tag to mark the strand either the wholesale or the
retail price (chose one and stick to it forever).

When the strands end up loose, it’s handy to use small price labels
on the back of each partition, (scotch taped over so they’ll never
get lost).

You’ll end up getting some mixed in with others (remember when you
cleaned up in a hurry?), so every 6 months, you can set them all out
on a table with lids open and resort them in their proper places.
This will not only refresh your memory of what you have, but
inevitably lead to new designs, so it’s not the chore it may sound

One fiscal trick: Once I get home with new purchases, I try to make
enough pieces of jewelry in the next 24 to 48 hours to cover the cost
of the beads that I brought into the house. This one practice has
made everything else I make be pure profit, and has totally relieved
me of the guilt of spending money on beads. My only problem now is
finding the room for all the beads I have. And organizing everything
so that all beads are easily found when an inspiration strikes!

Hope this 35 years of collecting beads info is helpful for you.

Have fun.
Mary Jane St. Amand

I use plastic boxes with permanent dividers in them. you can find
them from Michaels or Hobby Lobby or JoAnn fabrics. I put the prices
(with cost in code, date, supplier and retail) on the inside lid. I
never wash my gem beads. why would I? Have fun!!! M

Certainly wouldnt hurt to wash them! M